The Wellington Orcas should do everything in their power to try and get Sunday games scrapped from next season's fixture list.
Outstanding teenage centre Benson Tago had missed the last two Orcas games because his religious beliefs do not allow him to play on a Sunday.
But, reinstated for Saturday's NPC game against the Waicoa Bays Stallions, Tago produced a brilliant display, scoring a first-half hat-trick in the 40-34 win at Porirua Park.
It leaves Wellington with a 3-2 record and a slight sniff of qualifying for the grand final if they can beat the Akarana Falcons in next Monday's televised round-robin finale at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.
"Benson was an obvious standout and it was really good to have him back," said Orcas assistant coach Mike Kuiti.
"We just changed the game plan a little bit, made it a little bit simpler. We didn't try to play too much football coming out of our own half and there were a lot of good contributions from the forwards.
"The first half was the best football I've seen our team play for a long time. We controlled the ball, did everything that was asked of them."
Saturday's result highlighted the topsy-turvy nature of the competition and the importance of home advantage.
Wellington had been thrashed 52-16 by the South Island Scorpions in the previous round, yet the Stallions had beaten the Scorpions earlier in the season.
Akarana will start favourites next Monday but former Kiwi Kuiti was pleased the Orcas had at least given themselves a chance of making the grand final. "We throw our hat in the ring if we were to get a win but it would still come down to points difference."
Waicoa Bays won the under-17 clash 32-24, with Wellington claiming under-15 honours 38-22.
- The Dominion Post
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